Know Before you Go

Cottonwood Canyon State Park is a spectacular place.  Here are some things to think about to protect yourself, the land, and the animals who call Cottonwood Canyon State Park home.

7 Ways to Care for Yourself and the park

1.  Know before you go

  • Lock up:  It’s a fact; criminals exist, even out here.  It’s best to leave your valuables at home.  If you need to bring them, secure your valuables in your trunk or carry them.
  • Camel up:  Central Oregon climate is dry and in the summer it gets hot. Trailheads in the park do not have water, bring plenty.  You may get really thirsty even if there is water all around you.
  • Weather up: Check the forecast before you go.
  • Dress up:  Dress in layers and be prepared. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Know what to wear for the conditions
  • Map up: With over 10,000 acres of public land and miles of trail, it’s easy to get lost. Know where you are
  • Pack up:  Now is the time to haul that backpack out of the closet.  Bring your first aid kit, your valuables, a map, a hoodie, water, and a snack.  It’s always when we leave these things in our car or at camp that we need them.

2.  Stick to trails

  • Stay on trails:  In addition to damaging plants and confusing those who follow you, leaving trails exposes you (and us, your rescuers) to dangerous conditions. Stay found and uninjured.
  • Leaving a trail:  Before you head out, leave a paper or electronic note.  Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.  Plans changed?  Let your person know!  Sign in and out at marked trailheads.

There is NO cell service at Cottonwood Canyon, so don’t count on your phone for help.

If you get lost, STOP walking.  Stay in one place until you are found.  That way searchers will find you sooner and you will be less likely to get hurt.  Some things that might be helpful to hike with would be a trash bag (to use as shelter or a rain poncho – NEVER put a trash bag over your head without a hole for your face.), a whistle, and a signal mirror.  If you hear someone yelling or blowing a whistle, yell back!  If you hear a helicopter, go out in the open and make yourself BIG.  Wave your arms, put on brightly colored clothing, or make a big X on the ground out of sticks.

3.  Trash your trash and scoop the poop

  • Pack out what you pack in
  • Clean up after your pet.

4.  Leave it as you find it

  • Take pictures and memories, and leave only the print of your shoe . . . or toes if you’re the barefoot type.
  • Remove hitchhikers:  The seed kind.  Invasive plants threaten park ecology.  Check your boots after your hike. 
  • Pay it forward:  Feeling ambitious?  Pack out someone else’s trash or doggy doo bag (never pick up anything dangerous, let a ranger know where it is); or volunteer for a restoration project.

5.  Be mindful with fire

  • Do we mind?  Many public lands prohibit fires.  Here at State Parks, we prohibit fires outside of fire rings and when fire danger is extreme.
  • Have you minded?  If a fire is permitted in the area you’re visiting, make sure to keep an eye on it and put it out, dead out, before walking away.  Put your fire out before you go to bed if you’re camping.  Remember tiki torches are not allowed in camp or on the beach.
  • Keep in mind:  Any fire (or spark) can start a fire.  This could be anything from a smoldering cigarette or a candle to a spark from your engine on dry grass.

* The park manager may place temporary restrictions on fires in the park during high fire danger – especially in the summer when its hot, dry and windy.

6.  Keep wildlife wild

  • Leash your pets:  This keeps your pets, others’ pets, and wildlife safe.  There is an off-leash area in the park day use area.
  • Wildlife can look like big stuffed animals and kids like to touch.  When wild animals are scared, they bite, scratch, claw, sting and kick.  Even if nothing happens that time, the animal doesn’t know that they next child might hurt it.  Teach your children not to pet, pick up or hold any wild animals no matter how cute and cuddly they appear.
  • Resist feeding our adorable golden mantle squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and deer. These animals can become aggressive and will attack.  We know, they beg.  And steal.  Do not assist them in this life of crime.  It isn’t healthy.

7. Share the Park

  • People come to Cottonwood for may reasons. Fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, and star gazing to name a few. Be courteous of others and remember to have fun!